Xbox 360

So as many of you know, I acquired an Xbox 360 last Friday (tax returns don't ya' know?). I thought it might be appropriate to  jot down some of my impressions and thoughts. So, here's my 4 day review of the 360.

It's a nice piece of hardware. The dashboard and new Live services are particularly slick. I did something a bit odd, but I might recommend people try this out. I knew I was going to attempt to find one so earlier in the week I bought several games through Gamefly. Kameo, PGR3, and Dead or Alive 4 to be specific. So I didn't buy any games with the console. When I brought it home I had just the console. I hooked it up and logged into Live. I was able to download demos, a new trailer for Pixars Cars (in high definition, no less!), and buy a couple of Live Arcade games, all from the box. All told I had the console for about six hours before I even put a disc inside it. That's just plain cool.

The new mandatory Live support is very nice. You can always see your friends list, you can create a chat session with a friend that survives switching games, downloading stuff from the Arcade and so forth. The best feature of an Xbox 360 is custom soundtracks though. In any game you can punch the guide button, the game pauses and the dashboard comes up. There's some buttons there for friends and the like, but there's also media controls. You can pick out music and the game's music is mercifully shut off. I chortled with glee when I started the Burnout Revenge demo and the hated, awful EA Trax bullet came up telling me what crap it was going to start playing. I hit the Guide button and fired up some Beastie Boys instead. I win! Take that EA and your stupid music seletions!

But it gets better. There's some connection to Media Center or a Windows XP machine. I haven't gotten it to work on XP yet, but I did find some Mac software that emulates the features. It's called Connect360 and it's awesome. I installed it on my Mac and now my 360 can see all my iTunes playlists, and it can display iPhoto albums as a slideshow. So on my Mac I created a Playlist called "Racing Tunes" and I can select that from any 360 game and stream the audio from my Mac. Connect360 can't share the tracks from my iPod, but that's a minor grump. In theory I should be able to connect my iPod directly, but my iPod cables are firewire and I need to buy a USB cable.

I thought the launch lineup was sort of weak, but a bunch of stuff has come out for it recently, and the Live support seems to be everything I had hoped Xbox 1 would be. Of course, they were also impossible to find until recently, but apparently the supply lines have opened up. All in all I'm happy with the purchase and I expect to get a lot of enjoyment from it over the next few years.

I might write more about specific games in a future post - let me know if people have any interest. I also have rented Full Auto and intend to pick up Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter tomorrow.

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